Gillian Martin and Lucy

MSP: Gillian Martin        

Region/Constituency: Aberdeenshire East         

Dog’s Name: Lucy

Breed: Bichon Frise

Sex: Female

Age: 7

Colour: White

What are your favourite characteristics in your dog?

She is a complete madam, has the wickedest side-eye, and will do almost anything for a piece of fruit. Like most bichons she is super affectionate, but she very much has her favourites.

What makes your dog such a great animal?

She is just a great and loyal companion. Lucy would be quite happy to rest her head on my feet all day if she could. I think of her as my own personal therapet. Lucy was rehomed with me when her first owner fell seriously ill and couldn’t look after her. She was actually rehomed once before I got to her and it didn’t work out. Sent back to her original owner, the poor lady was worried she would never settle with anyone else. And I did initially worry that she might find it difficult to adjust to being with a new family but we fell in love with one another at first sight. She is very much my dog and she was my best pal within the first day. She’s my wee fluffy shadow- I think we were meant to be together.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

I worry that too many people get a dog on a whim, and don’t really take into account how much looking after they need. The amount of dogs needing homes is ridiculously high because of this. I also think the illegal puppy trade and unlicensed puppy farms are still a huge problem. In my constituency we have had a major problem with one, which thankfully has been shut down, but many of the dogs and their pups were ill and had to be put to sleep as a result of over breeding and neglect. And we also have a distressing amount of pups making their way to Scotland from overseas puppy farms. We need to educate people better on how to decrease the demand of these pups, and continue to promote adoption of adult rescue dogs. Knowing what I know now I’m not certain I would ever buy a pup. After my amazing experience with rehoming Lucy, I think adoption is the way forward for me.

What role should training and socialisation play in a dog’s life and what is your top training tip?

Bichons are notoriously hard to train, particularly toilet train. I’m not sure why that is- maybe it’s their stubbornness. My advice would be positive reinforcement. Dogs get very stressed when they are treated negatively- even if it’s just giving them a wee row, and I think that stress leads to bigger problems. Your dog should never be frightened of you. My two dogs respond much better to praise and affection.

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2018?

Because I think Lucy is a great advert for giving dogs a second chance and adopting rather than shopping.


Click here to vote for Gillian Martin and Lucy

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